Thoughts on heat, drought effect on deer

The weather this summer has been a doozy, hasn’t it? This is not the first time we’ve
experienced days and weeks without rain with daily temperatures in triple digits adding to the misery. This summer, though, has been right up there with some of the worse ones.

We’re sitting here with hunting seasons opening with archery season for deer beginning October 1 and squirrel season starting the following week on October 7. It’s hard not to be concerned about the wildlife we’ll be hunting, animals that are trying to make it with much of their food sources in peril.

My concern for what effect these hot and dry conditions will have on our hunting success sent me to Johnathan Bordelon, a fellow who keeps up with such and who was willing to share his thoughts based on his years of working with the ins and outs; the ups and downs of what wildlife faces during good times and not-so-good times.

Bordelon is Deer Program Manager for the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and
Fisheries (LDWF) with years of study and research under his belt.

“Ninety percent of our state fits the category of being in severe drought which set the
stage for tens of thousands of acres of wildfires. Plants deer utilize have been impacted, not only by the fires but also by drought. Nutrients deer need have been diminished by these conditions,” said Bordelon.

“Even in normal years, plants begin losing their nutritional value as they start losing their leaves as fall approaches. This situation becomes escalated during long periods of high heat and drought,” he added.

What does this all mean for deer hunters this season? Will the body weights and antler development of deer be diminished? Are deer hunters more likely to see skinny deer with skimpy racks? Based on past history and research, Bordelon offered some interesting and encouraging information in this regard.

“Over the past 25 years, Louisiana has seen conditions like what we experienced this
year. Summers or 2000-2001; 2006 and 2011-12, we experienced drought conditions and we have the advantage of studying what took place during those periods of drought and the effect it had on the condition of our deer.”

“Interestingly, our research showed that we didn’t see a drop in body weights and buck antler growth and development during those periods of drought; it was almost identical to years when it wasn’t so hot and dry. However,” he added, ‘it is a proven fact severe and extended periods of drought leads to reduced recruitment, to reduced body size overall that extends to antler development.”

Cutting through all the research data, hunters want to know just what we might expect to see once we’re sitting in our deer stands this season.

“I expect it to be about average this year but can’t say that with certainty. Based on our samples and studies, we really don’t expect to see significant changes from previous years,” Bordelon said.

What about supplemental feeding, especially this year since so much natural vegetation has been affected?

“Our suggestion is to reach out to agencies such as the Extension Service, LSU and
LDWF if you have a question about the quality of the supplemental feed you want to use.”

Let’s just hope that our deer survived basically intact during 2023. If 2024 is a repeat,
however, all bets are off.

”Will this year’s drought and high temperatures affect deer hunters? Hopefully, hunters like Keith Johnson will be able to once again enjoy success.” Courtesy photo


CANEY LAKE – Bass have been best fishing at night on dark spinners and soft plastics. They are fair to good early mornings on topwater lures with square bill crank baits, spinners and soft plastics working best later. Some bass are schooling and hitting shad imitations. Crappie have been best around the deeper tops on shiners or jigs. Bream are slow. For information contact Caney Lake Landing at 259-6649, Hooks Marina at 249-2347, Terzia Tackle at 278-4498 or the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
BLACK BAYOU – No report. Lake closed as spraying pads is ongoing. Contact Honey Hole Tackle Shop 323-8707 for latest information.
BUSSEY BRAKE –Some are still catching nice bass around the brush on spinners and flipping jigs. The crappie are scattered around the brush. Bream have slowed. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole at 323-8707.
OUACHITA RIVER – The water level is quite low. Bass are fair in the cuts on shad imitations; some crappie are being caught around submerged tops in the river on jigs. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE D’ARBONNE – With Lake Claiborne being lowered and water running into D’Arbonne, the lake is a pool stage with some running over spillway which has improved fishing for bass and crappie in the bayou below the spillway. Some bass are still being caught early mornings on topwater lures around the grass and crappie are best along the channel drops on shiners and jigs. Bream are slow but catfish continue to be caught fishing cold worms and night crawlers off the banks. For latest info, call Anderson Sport Center at 368-9669 or Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE CLAIBORNE – The lake is undergoing a drawdown. There have been reports of some bream being caught on crickets and red wigglers off the banks. As the water level drops look for bass to be on the secondary points with crank baits and soft plastics working best. Night fishing around the lights is still producing some action. Some reports of some real nice crappie being caught in 12 foot water on shiners and jigs. No report on stripers or catfish this week. For latest information, call Kel’s Cove at 927-2264 or Terzia Tackle at 278-4498.
LAKE POVERTY POINT – Fishing for catfish has improved. Crappie fishing has slightly
improved with best catches made on the south end. No report on bass. For latest reports, call Poverty Point Marina at 318/878-0101. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.
LAKE YUCATAN – The water level is falling and quite low. Some catfish have been reported and bass fishing has been fair. Crappie are slow. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.

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